Do you remember playing with paper dolls when you were a child? It seems to be a lost past time today. My girls spend HOURS playing with them, but when we mention paper dolls to others we sometimes receive blank stares. In an age with so much emphasis on mobile apps, video games, and movies, paper dolls have so many benefits.
Benefits of Paper Dolls
Creativity and Imagination
Creativity and imagination are important life skills. Without them, it would be difficult to solve complex problems and find new solutions. Writers, inventors, scientists, and moms are all creative people. (Remember the last time your child had a meltdown? You probably had to be creative to get through it!)
Creative pretend play has been associated with increased creative performance later in life. Paper dolls provide an excellent opportunity for open-ended pretend play. The possibilities for creative stories are limitless. There have been days my girls have had six different sets of paper dolls out at once telling a mega story. I often hear, “Let’s pretend…”
Children often have difficulty working through new, challenging, or fearful situations. Pretend play is one way for children to work through these emotions in a non-threatening way. It allows them to explore different aspects of the situation and think out loud. Paper dolls provide an appropriate medium for children to work through these situations.
Pretend play with paper dolls allows us to hear how our a child perceives his environment. I am sure you have heard your words and mannerisms come out of your child’s mouth. They pick up more than you realize, especially when you don’t want them to.
Unfortunately, sometimes they misunderstand us. When my brother and I were young, he overheard a friend telling my mom that her husband was going to kill her when he heard what happened. My brother didn’t understand that it was just a phrase meaning he would be upset. He was really concerned for this friend’s safety until my mom explained the situation. We can help our children with misunderstandings like these when we hear them in their pretend play.
Oral communication skills and auditory development
Telling a story with paper dolls increases a child’s oral communication skills. They are narrating what they see and hear. They have the opportunity to use new words and try them out in different situations.
When children tell stories through pretend play, they hear spoken language which helps them make a connection between the spoken and written language. This connection will be beneficial later when they are learning to read.
Fine Motor Skills
Paper dolls come in all varieties. Some need to be punched out. Some need to be cut out. Some even allow children to color them in, thus engaging even more creativity. All of these provide practice with fine motor skills. Playing with the dolls provides practice with fine motor skills as well as the child moves the dolls around and changes their clothes (most utilize little tabs to hold the clothes onto the doll).
Our Favorite Paper Dolls
- Paper Dolls by Kathryn Winterscheidt—These delightfully hand-drawn paper dolls come with six girls, nine family members and pets, and over one hundred clothing options and accessories. It is a PDF download so you can print as many copies as you want and color them over and over.
- Children of the World—These paper dolls are to be colored in. They are great for encouraging creativity.
- Printable Paper Dolls from Around the World
- My Book of Little House Paper Dolls: The Big Woods Collection
- Flower Fairies Paper Dolls
- Disney Princess magnetic paper dolls-These magnetic paper dolls come in a metal tin that is great for travel.
- Dover Paper Dolls—These tend to be a little more difficult to cut out so some adult assistance may be needed.
- American Girl Paper Dolls
- Melissa and Doug wooden dress-up dolls—These are great for younger children.
Amy’s Note: The Paper Dolls used in this pinnable image were created from these two Dover books which include a wonderful CD for printing. The images can then be colored by the child and cut out.
Historic Costumes from Ancient Times to the Renaissance by Tom Tierney
Historic Costumes from the Renaissance to the 19th Century by Tom Tierney